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“As sacred keepers of the honey bee, Apis Mellifera, we honor every individual bee, the hive as a collective, the apiary, and the Earth. It is in this spirit that we seek to study and relate to the honeybee; nature’s greatest emissary.” -From the College of the Melissae Mission Statement
We’re pleased to add another like-minded institution to our list of collaborators for The Fifth Sacred Thing film. The College of the Melissae, of Ashland, OR, is a real-life home for the anthropological study of beekeeping. Combining workshops, lectures and online study, the College curriculum deeply educates on the basics of beekeeping, but also examines its mystical, sacred tradition and practice.
Students of the program learn bee fundamentals such as hive dynamics and native-species pollinators, but the College (subtitled “The Center for Sacred Beekeeping”) has a much larger aim: to build a bridge that connects modern beekeeping spiritually and materially to Earth’s future 300 years from today.
The curriculum is heavily rooted in deep spiritual traditions, such as exploratory sound and drumming, the making and sharing of sacred bee art, and ceremonial/ritual beekeeping practices. To document and share localized bee culture, its students will engage in the creation of regional paper journals of ephemera, writings, and drawings to document and preserve current traditions around beekeeping for sharing with other regions and future generations.
Laura Ferguson (aka Laura Bee), Director of the College, started the project 1 year ago with just two hundred dollars; today, the school has six instructors and an extensive online curriculum. They’ve been using Starhawk’s Empowerment Manual for second-year students to work on group process and leadership skills.
Students locally and across the US and Canada are registered for the next “Melissae Track” session, which begins on Feb 9 (with registration open through March), and will receive much of the curriculum through online technological resources and mail packages.
Laura sees her work with the bees as second-generation offspring of Starhawk’s teachings, and says that her exposure to that inspiration was key to her decision to pursue this path. “She brought me into adulthood with her work, and really helped form my self-identity in terms of being connected to ancient traditions, and being a leader even though I didn’t feel like I fit into a normal context.”
Notably, the College curriculum includes a requirement that students stay rooted in environmental activism and connect with mentors at local bee clubs, to establish the College of the Melissae community as a connected, relevant cultural voice. They will also offer pollination services to area organic farms, in hopes of anchoring the Sacred with real world applications.
We’re excited to add Laura Bee and the College of The Melissae to our list of conspirators and collaborators on the TFST film project, and are eager to see what unfolds from this connection. If you’re interested in more information about the College’s program, visit their website at collegeofthemelissae.com or download the College of the Melissae; Program Overview 2013,
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